Elisa Lanera Foundation - ELF Helps Africa


"Revelation leads to new foundation" -The Lewisboro Ledger

The Lewisboro Ledger
Thursday, April 15, 2010 (33rd Year, NO. 15)
Written by Jane K. Dove 

Lanera: A new foundation

The foundation is named in honor of Ms. Lanera’s mother, a vibrant and beloved woman tragically killed by a drunk driver three days after Jaymie’s first birthday.
Ms. Lanera lived in Waccabuc during most of her school years. “I graduated from John Jay High school and then went on to study at the Institute of American Universities in Provence, France, the Umbria Institute in Perugia, Italy, Somerville College of Oxford University, and then received my B.A. degree from St. Bonaventure University in 2006,” she said.
Called to Africa
Despite her Westchester roots, Africa always called out to Ms. Lanera. “I had done volunteer fund raising for HIV/AIDS since I was in high school,” she said. “In 2008, after leaving American University, I was nominated and chosen to serve as an international delegate for a nursing scholarship program in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.” Ms. Lanera eagerly accepted the opportunity.
During this time, Ms. Lanera said she learned first-hand about the large HIV/AIDS epidemic in classrooms, clinics, and by reaching out to people in the local communities.
“Hearing their stories and learning many facts about the society and culture was heart-breaking,” she said. “I faced many other day-to-day cultural and social issues that stuck in my mind and tugged at my heart.”
Ms. Lanera said the life-changing experience in Africa altered her entire outlook on life and on her future.
“Everyone has some direction when it comes to their future, but I had felt lost,” she said. “And then, in the middle of a foreign land, I found my calling and was inspired to become more deeply involved with the communities in any way that I could.”
Ms. Lanera came home from Africa determined to establish a foundation. She partnered in the effort with her friend Kristin Collins, now co-director.
Ms. Lanera returned to Africa several months later to do research and gain further knowledge about the education and health care delivery systems in South Africa and other African countries.
“I spent six months teaching and organizing educational classes and activities at a school in a local village in Ghana,” she said. “I also spent three weeks in Uganda, teaching at an orphanage and working in the public hospital’s HIV/AIDS clinic.”
After this experience, Ms. Lanera fine-tuned the mission of the nascent Elisa Lanera Foundation.
Today, the organization’s vision statement states, “The Elisa Lanera Foundation will establish its groundwork in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa through implementing extensive educational curriculums that will allow children to recognize their future opportunities, strengths, and potentials. Our programs will also spread awareness of the current HIV/AIDS epidemic.”
First project
Ms Lanera received her official not-for-profit designation in October 2009 and said she realizes she has to start with small projects that she can support through fund raising.
“Our first project will be building a library at the school in Ghana where I once taught,” she said. “We have already had an architect friend of ours draw up plans and we can build the library for only $20,000 over a period of about two months.”
To help achieve her fund-raising goal, Ms. Lanera has “Change for Children” buckets strategically placed in stores throughout Lewisboro and is planning the foundation’s first event.
“This will be a dinner held on Friday, June 18, from 6:30 to 10, at the Westchester Hills Country Club in White Plains,” she said. “We have a corporate sponsor, Bruno Wessel Inc., so all of the $100 ticket price will go directly to the foundation.”
Ms. Lanera said the fund-raiser will include a silent auction and a slide show presentation about the work of the foundation.
“We are hoping to find people that would like to attend the event or donate items to the silent auction,” she said. “Anyone interested can contact me directly at 914-232-1589 or e-mail jaymie@elfhelpsafrica.org .”
Ms. Lanera said she is determined that her foundation will use almost 100% of the money it raises over the years to help those in need in Africa.
“While in Africa, I saw so much waste and abuse of donated funds and items that I was sickened, and angry,” she said. “Money sent to help children ended up in the hands of others. My goal is to use 97% of donated funds for our cause.”


“I was sitting in a French translation and interpretation class while going for my master’s degree at American University in early 2008 when I had a revelation that my real calling was helping with the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa,” Jaymie Lanera of Goldens Bridge told The Ledger.
“I literally got up, walked out of the class and put my life on a totally different course.”
 Jaymie Lanera of Goldens Bridge has started the Elisa Lanera Foundation to raise money and awareness about HIV/AIDS in Africa.

The “different course” was the eventual founding of the Elisa Lanera Foundation, which Ms. Lanera founded officially in 2009 after traveling and working in Africa and seeing that “the root causes of most of the social issues affecting communities there was lack of education resources.”


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